Dead or Alive? It Depends!


This notice from the Youngstown Vindicator was probably not too reassuring for anyone who may have circling the drain on April 1, 1930. While your vital signs indicated you were dead, the Federal government was willing to give you a few extra days.

As the Vindicator reported on 30 March 1930, anyone who died between April 1 and the time the census taker (more properly, the “enumerator”) arrived at the home was counted as being alive. Likewise, anyone who was born after April 1 but before the enumerator came to the home, often weeks later, was not counted. The enumerator’s instructions would have read, “Enter the name of every person whose usual place of abode on April 1, 1930, was with the family or in the dwelling place for which the enumeration is being made.” By counting everyone who was living on April 1, the Census would more accurately reflect a single day in time.

“Census Will Count You As Alive If You Die April 1”, Youngstown [OH] Vindicator, 30 Mar 1930, page A2, col 4; digital image, ( : accessed 17 May 2016), Google News Archive.

Steven Ruggles, Katie Genadek, Ronald Goeken, Josiah Grover, and Matthew Sobek. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Version 6.0 [Machine-readable database], “1930 Census: Enumerator’s Instructions,” Minneapolis : University of Minnesota, 2015.

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